“Starting this year, at least half of all reading in our schools is supposed to be non-fiction. And that includes kindergarten.
What makes matters even worse for later grades is that students already read non-fiction almost exclusively in all their other courses, so if you take science, social studies, and math into account, only one-eighth of student reading will be literary. And that fraction is likely to shrink in the future.
So the question looms: Is literature necessary? …
While ripping “The Cat in the Hat” from the hands of kindergarteners and replacing it with “How Factories Work” may, in the long run, produce better factory workers, it is unlikely to produce better citizens. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be operated on by a doctor who couldn’t master “Dr. Zhivago,” nor do I want to be defended by a lawyer who thinks Sydney Carton is a box of Australian cigarettes.
In truth, we should be encouraging students to read more literature, not less. Literature allows us to see how all humans are connected through common experiences and emotions. It allows us to examine our past and plan for our future. It can help make us more empathetic to our fellows. Perhaps most importantly literature exposes us to new ideas and forces us to think in new ways.
If our goal is to improve education, what could be more practical than that?”